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Sep 27, 2020

In this episode we chat with Koen Vessies, a Dutch chef and restauranteur who runs the Spanish tapas restaurant ‘Tomatito’ in Shanghai. Koen shares his fascinating story of becoming a chef, traveling and working around the world in 7-star hotels and Michelin-starred restaurants, and serving celebrity figures in his Shanghai restaurant.

Show Notes:

  • Koen’s background - grew up in the Netherlands, started working as a teenager and ended up learning from a top chef in a local restaurant kitchen.
  • Culinary school, shadowing Gordon Ramsey, and getting an opportunity to work in one of the world’s most luxurious hotels, the Burj Al Arab in Dubai.
  • Hometown connections that led to Koen meeting his wife, and how that took him to Paris to cook for a Michelin-starred restaurant.
  • How Koen ended up in China 12 years ago, to a food and beverage scene that was very undeveloped and ripe for experimentation.
  • Drastic changes in the Shanghai F&B scene over the past decade and the intense level of competition today, and what is needed to survive in this cutthroat business.
  • Rubbing shoulders with celebrities in his Shanghai restaurant, and the time when Argentine footballer Carlos Tevez came with his entire entourage.
  • Koen’s passion for travel and exploring local cuisine around the world, and how he implements those new ideas into his cooking.
  • Koen’s love for Chinese food, and why he thinks Chinese food will become the next big global culinary trend.
  • Koen’s advice for prospective chefs and restaurateurs who might consider plying their craft in China.

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